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EU agency says titanium dioxide not safe as white pigment for food

Rome Titanium dioxide, often used as a colourant in many foods, is not safe for human consumption because of possible cancer risks, an EU agency said on Thursday.
Titanium dioxide, often called E171 in the list of ingredients, can be found in chewing gum, sweets, baked goods, soups and salad dressings.
Several consumer advocacy groups have been calling for the white pigment additive to be phased out from use for some time. The European Food Safety Authority said there was no conclusive evidence that E171 had general toxic effects on the body.
However, since agency investigators could not rule out genotoxicity concerns - meaning the substance might be capable of damaging DNA in cells - the decision was made to no longer consider E171 safe. The Italy-based agency did not impose a ban, but gave its assessment to the European Commission and the 27 EU member states for further action.
“Although the evidence for general toxic effects was not conclusive, on the basis of the new data and strengthened methods we could not rule out a concern for genotoxicity and consequently we could not establish a safe level for daily intake of the food additive,” said professor Matthew Wright, a member of the E171 working group, in a statement. (dpa)

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